The Launch Pad

The Launch Pad

Inside Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups

Book - 2012
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Penguin Putnam
Number of teams that applied to Y Combinator’s summer 2011 batch: 2,089
Teams interviewed: 170
Minutes per interview: 10
Teams accepted and funded: 64
Months to build a viable startup: 3
Possibilities: BOUNDLESS
Investment firm Y Combinator is the most sought-after home for startups in Silicon Valley. Twice a year, it funds dozens of just-founded startups and provides three months of guid­ance from Paul Graham, YC’s impresario, and his partners, also entrepreneurs and mostly YC alumni. The list of YC-funded success stories includes Dropbox (now valued at $5 billion) and Airbnb ($1.3 billion).
Receiving an offer from YC creates the oppor­tunity of a lifetime — it’s like American Idol for budding entrepreneurs.
Acclaimed journalist Randall Stross was granted unprecedented access to Y Combinator’s summer 2011 batch of young companies, offering a unique inside tour of the world of software startups. Most of the founders were male programmers in their mid-twenties or younger. Over the course of the summer, they scrambled to heed Graham’s seemingly simple advice: make something people want.
We watch the founders work round-the-clock, developing and retooling products as diverse as a Web site that can teach anyone program­ming, to a Wikipedia-like site for rap lyrics, to software written by a pair of attorneys who seek to “make attorneys obsolete.”
Founders are guided by Graham’s notoriously direct form of tough-love feedback. “Here, we don’t fire you,” he says. “The market fires you. If you’re sucking, I’m not going to run along behind you, saying, ‘You’re sucking, you’re suck­ing, c’mon, stop sucking.’” Some teams would even abandon their initial idea midsummer and scramble to begin anew.
The program culminated in “Demo Day,” when founders pitched their startup to sev­eral hundred top angel investors and venture capitalists. A lucky few attracted capital that gave their startup a valuation of multiple millions of dollars. Others went back to the drawing board.
This is the definitive story of a seismic shift that’s occurred in the business world, in which coding skill trumps employment experience, pairs of undergraduates confidently take on Goliaths, tiny startups working out of an apart­ment scale fast, and investors fall in love.

Baker & Taylor
Offers fly-on-the-wall perspectives on the teachings of Silicon Valley investment firm Y Combinator and its twice-annual selection of elite young entrepreneurs who participate in intense three-month programs where they build small startups that are ultimately presented to venture capitalists. 20,000 first printing.

Book News
Stross (business, San Jose State U.), who writes the "Digital Domain" column for The New York Times, presents a balanced portrait of Y Combinator, an entrepreneurial outfit that has seeded successful start-ups in Silicon Valley. He depicts its hacker mentality ("software is eating the world"), personalities, and investments. Includes a list of the software, apps and other products coming out of its summer 2011 "batch" (session). Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Offers perspectives on the teachings of Y Combinator and its twice-annual selection of elite young entrepreneurs who participate in three-month programs where they build small startups that are presented to venture capitalists.

Publisher: New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2012
ISBN: 9781591845294
Branch Call Number: 658.15 STR
Characteristics: viii, 280 p. ; 24 cm


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